The cross-LoC trade would continue to remain suspended as authorities haven’t yet completed the process of setting up a mechanism to check the flow of banned items through the route.
On April 19, Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) suspended trade along the Line of Control via Salamabad Uri and Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch stating that the routes were used for “inflow of weapons, narcotics and foreign currency”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had said the cross-LoC trade will only be resumed after it puts in place stricter measures, full proof mechanism and systems.
But three months have passed since trade was suspended; there seems no headway in the process, with people associated with yet to recover the money that is in transit.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had doled out a series of reasons as to why the cross LoC trade has been suspended on all routes stating that infiltration of third party goods, channeling funds and arms for militancy and the pumping of fake currencies were major reasons for stopping the trade. "LoC trade across Chakkan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was intended to be a confidence-building measure for the population living in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir and living across LoC in PoJK and J-K. However, third parties manipulated the trade and misused the facility for trading goods being produced from outside Jammu and Kashmir," local newsgathering agency KNO had reported.
Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Ghulam Nabi Itoo told Rising Kashmir that the full proof mechanism for the LoC trade will be completed by September this year.
“The installation work is going on. One agency is already doing a work to put in place a full proof mechanism. Once, it will be completed by September month this year, after that the trade will be resumed," he said.
However, traders from Poonch and Uri told Rising Kashmir that they are facing loses due to the continuous ban on the LoC trade.
They appealed the Home ministry and Governor to resume the trade for at least a month, so that the traders will clear their balances.
Vice president, Cross-LoC Traders Association, Sami-ullah Bhat said that the money from both the sides are in transit. “There are around 200 traders and the balance is yet to be cleared from both the sides. There is a balance in lakhs and crores and the traders are not able to clear it due to the continuous ban."
“All the traders and people associated with the trade are suffering. We had written letters to the Home Ministry, but there was no response. In fact, recently we tried to approach the Governor but to no avail," he said.
Bhat said that there is a loss of crores of rupees till now. “We are requesting the government of India to solve the issue as soon as possible. People who are associated with the trade are facing a problem," he said.
“If the government wants to put in place a mechanism like body scanners, re-verification, truck scanners. If they want to change the system, they should do it quickly, so that the traders should not suffer," Chairman of Cross-LoC Traders Association Hilal Turkei told Rising Kashmir.
He said that the labourers who were associated with the trade are not able to meet their daily needs. “They are literally begging. There are already unemployment problems in the state. We hope the government will not let people suffer like this," he said.
He said that the LoC traders association will again approach the Home Ministry and Governor regarding the trade.
"Traders have already invested for the items. If the full proof mechanism is taking time, then, we request the government to resume trade so that the balance will be cleared from both sides," he added.